Canadian Content: Buck 65 and Cadence Weapon

Buck 65 and Cadence Weapon are the binary stars (it’s called a metaphor) of avant-garde Canadian hip-hop. And by avant-garde I mean dope. Both musicians blend thought-provoking, often obtuse raps over eclectic, unconventional beats, resulting in a unique brand of hip-hop that is difficult to describe yet uniquely Canadian. The two are sometimes compared to American underground rappers like Aesop Rock or most of the anticon stable, yet such comparisons fail to capture the multiform, genre-bending sound one encounters on albums like Buck 65’s Talkin’ Honky Blues and Cadence Weapon’s Breaking Kayfabe.

Buck 65 (aka Richard Terfry of Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia) and Cadence Weapon (aka Rollie Pemberton of Edmonton, Albera) have both released new music in the past several months. Buck 65’s most recent effort, Situation, is, like much of his work, lyrically dense and perhaps a tad too esoteric. Indeed, it requires serious listening to decipher, but will reward listeners who put in the effort. Fortunately, for those who aren’t interested in interpreting lyrics Situation’s beats are accessible enough. Produced by Skratch Bastid, the album “has a more ‘pure’ hip-hop sound” than Buck 65’s earlier work and the jazzy, funky beats keep the record from descending too far into wierdness, especially when Terfry can no longer resist the temptation to go off the lyrical deep end.

Cadence Weapon’s newest album, Afterparty Babies, is similarly characterized by bizarre pop-culture references, “rubbery vocal cadences” and “leftfield excursions.” Lyrically, Cadence Weapon and Buck 65 thus occupy similar places on the fringe of the hip-hop spectrum. Musically, however, the two are practically complete opposites. Cadence Weapon’s sound draws heavily from electro influences, and his beats are populated with strange bleeps and bloops, 808 drums and “molten, neon synths.” In fact, on tracks like the appropriately named “House Music,” Cadence might pass for a competent house music producer (or is that track meant to be ironic?).

While some might be turned off by the two rapper’s penchant for verbose, “colloquial poetry,” there is no denying that both Buck 65 and Cadence Weapon continue to push the boundaries of what hip-hop is capable of. Check out some tracks from their new albums to hear what I mean.

Buck 65 – The Beatific (Situation, 2007)


Buck 65 – Benz ft. Cadence Weapon (Situation, 2007)


Cadence Weapon – In Search Of The Youth Crew (Afterparty Babies, 2008)


I haven’t been able to find copies of either album on any blogs, so if you’re jonesing to hear them in their entirety you may have to torrent them. Or, you could be a real man/woman and buy them here and here.

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